For the first time, Maya Bay, a beach made famous by Leonardo DiCaprio in Danny Boyle’s 2000 film The Beach will be closed to tourists effective June 1.
The picturesque beach, located on the island of Ko Phi Phi in Thailand, offers a stunning view of turquoise blue water, dramatic rock cliffs, and white sand. Since it set the stage for an adventure movie helmed by Leonardo DiCaprio, it has also become a popular spot for tourists and receives thousands of visitors per week.
However, according to Thai officials, the tourist attention is doing more harm than good. Maya Bay is now showing signs of environmental damage, including decline in the area’s coral reefs and deterioration of local ecosystems.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time the beach has felt the effects of tourist interaction. When The Beach was filmed, Thai authorities granted 20th Century Fox permission to make cosmetic changes to Maya Bay’s landscape in what turned out to be a controversial decision. This involved leveling and widening the beach and adding new, non-native plants.
Luckily, the beach won’t be closed permanently. Thai authorities made the decision to close the beach to tourists for four months each year to give coral reefs and the surrounding area a chance to recover from the influx of visitors. Many of Thailand’s national parks close during monsoon season.
Maya Bay will reopen in September, but authorities will only allow 2,000 visitors per day—about half the current number of visitors the Bay receives.